UAE joins NASA's historic Lunar Gateway project


The UAE is planning to send the first Emirati and Arab astronaut to the moon, it's been announced, as President His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan and His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and the Ruler of Dubai, attended the launch of the UAE's participation in the international "Lunar Gateway" project.

Lunar Gateway is a component of the NASA-led Artemis missions to return to the Moon and chart a path for the first human missions to Mars.

The small space station will be a multi-purpose outpost orbiting the Moon, providing essential support for lunar surface missions, a destination for science, and serving as a staging point for further deep space exploration. NASA is working with commercial and international partners to establish Lunar Gateway, including the European Space Agency, Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency and the Canadian Space Agency. 

At the launch of the partnership it was announced the UAE will send the first Emirati and Arab astronaut into lunar orbit, with the ultimate aim of landing the first Emirati on to the moon.

NASA administrator Bill Nelson also announced that the UAE's Mohammed bin Rashid Space Centre (MBRSC) will provide the Crew and Science airlock for Lunar Gateway.

“The United States and the United Arab Emirates are marking a historic moment in our nations’ collaboration in space, and the future of human space exploration,” said Nelson. “We are in a new era of exploration through Artemis – strengthened by the peaceful and international exploration of space. The UAE’s provision of the airlock to Gateway will allow astronauts to conduct groundbreaking science in deep space and prepare to one day send humanity to Mars.”

In addition to operating the airlock, MBRSC also will provide engineering support for the life of the lunar space station. The airlock will allow crew and science research transfers to and from the habitable environment of Gateway’s pressurised crew modules to the vacuum of space. These transfers will support broader science in the deep space environment, as well as Gateway maintenance.

Posting on X, President His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan wrote, "I was pleased to attend with my brother Mohammed bin Rashid the launch of the UAE’s contributions to the historic Lunar Gateway, which will serve as humanity’s first space station around the Moon.

"Through our long-term investment in space exploration and scientific innovation, the UAE is determined to work alongside its international partners to enable collective progress for all."

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